Category Archives: Cartoons

Situation 41: work area versus personality

Mi An’s office is highly cozy: lots of photos of her family, flowers and a huge collection of porcelain dogs and cats in all kind of sizes. Mansy advises her to re-consider the office decoration.

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A great leader:

  • Is comfortable with herself and has high self-esteem;
  • Is authentic in her dealings with others, demonstrating clear values, a clear purpose and strong work ethic. She is not afraid to show her true personality at work;
  • Conveys her professionalism in her actions and interactions with others.

How to best handle the situation:

We spend a lot of time at work and research has shown that people perform better when they work in a pleasant environment, clean offices, with natural light, plants, comfortable furniture etc. (see, for example, http://smartbusinesstrends.com/tips-creating-healthy-efficient-positive-work-environment/) and are able to customize their work space to some degree. In fact, we see a lot of firms (Hubspot, Dropbox, Skype, Evernote, AirBnB etc. http://mashable.com/2014/01/09/playful-workspaces/) that design work spaces that reflect the company culture and often provide ‘play’ areas as well as quiet spaces to give their employees the freedom to move between different work environments that suit their needs and moods.

It is important that you remain true to yourself when you are at work rather than hide your true personality to fit a work ‘ideal’. If you are a warm, homely person it is fine to convey that to your work colleagues. However, be aware that your style may not come across well to everyone you meet and that some people may overlook you if they do not see you as leadership material or capable of working on special assignments. Tune in to how others behave towards you and continually sense how you are coming across.

Study how other people decorate their offices; do they personalize them with photos of loved ones, drawings by their children, art, etc. or do they stick to company-supplied pictures and posters, business awards or nothing at all? If most people tend towards a more neutral, business-like environment then you might consider toning down your own office décor without eliminating all traces of your personal life. If you are unsure, ask a trusted colleague for his/her honest opinion.

Learning suggestions:

  • How you decorate your office does say something about you and can be a conversation starter when unfamiliar people visit you, so it is worth considering what subtle messages you want to convey and the topics you are happy to discuss with strangers.
  • It is good to have individuals within an organization who are different from the norm since they can provide refreshing perspectives and challenge the status quo and ‘groupthink’. If you are individualistic and happy to be out on a limb, celebrate and remember the value that you bring by being different.
  • Reflect on your personal values; what is important to you? How well are you living your values at work? What areas, if any, do you need to change so that you are acting in congruence with your values?

Femchallenge:

  • Embrace your own personal style and ways of expressing yourself – the way you dress, your office décor, how you communicate etc. – whilst remaining within the bounds of professionalism.

Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.

Find more on our website Femflection.com

Situation 40: Standing your ground

Femsy presents a proposal in the Management Meeting. She knows her material inside and out since she spent a lot of time researching the feasibility and its impact on the company. As soon as she is questioned during the meeting she backs into “Maybe you are right”. As a result, no decision was taken about the proposal during the meeting. Boss calls Femsy into his room furiously: although Femsy was absolutely right she created a situation where it would be very hard to get the team believing in her idea.

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Situation 39: Nasty office gossip

Mansy heard through the grapevine some interesting information about “Boss”. He is discussing it with his colleagues. When Femsy enters the room, Mansy invites her into the office gossip. Femsy “neutralizes” the situation.

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Situation 38: Annual Achievement review

It is time For Femsy’s annual performance review. Boss schedules a one-hour meeting to discuss performance. Femsy believes she had a very good year with significant achievements. She is not convinced that Boss is fully aware of all her accomplishments. Femsy believes she deserves a pay raise. She hopes Boss will bring this up.

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Situation 37: Clear vision of success

Femsy and Betsy are discussing the meaning of personal success. For Femsy it is important to have an interesting job in which she is appreciated and respected. Betsy wants to launch her own art chain in 5 to 7 years and that is why it is important for her to understand the industry thoroughly, understand how companies are working and to develop into an all-round leader.

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Situation 36: Female Leadership Mentoring

Femsy admits that self-confidence remains an issue for her. She sometimes finds it tough to operate in a macho environment. Furthermore she feels she does not have a strong network. She agrees with boss to find a third party mentor.

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Situation 35: Friends on Facebook:

Femsy friends Betsy on Facebook, however, Betsy does not feel comfortable melding personal and professional lives.

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A great leader:

  • Is able to set boundaries around her working life and professional relationships;
  • She demonstrates empathy and builds relationships with her colleagues based on what feels natural to both parties and fosters great collaboration;
  • Is assertive and respectful towards others whilst making clear her expectations.

How to best handle the situation:

Given the increasing demands of work, it is likely that you are working long hours on projects with your colleagues. The intensity of the work can result in camaraderie and the formation of strong bonds – a feeling of ‘we are all in this together’. Therefore, it is not surprising that some work colleagues may consider you to be more than just a coworker and try to extend the relationship to your personal life.

If you feel uncomfortable with any invitation to socialize either physically or virtually it is best to have a face-to-face conversation with the person concerned. Do not respond to a friend request on Facebook directly on the app/platform. Ask the individual why they sent you the invitation  Remember to use a tone that is conversational rather than judgmental. ‘I saw that you sent me a friend request on Facebook, I’m curious as to why’ or ‘By the way, I saw your friend request on Facebook, that was a surprise’ are better than ‘Why did you send me a friend request on Facebook?’ Actively listen to what he/she is saying to you; your aim is to get the other person to open up to you so you understand his/her motives, then you can decide how you want to respond.

If you still feel awkward with having a personal relationship say that politely; thank him/her for the invitation and say that you normally prefer not to mix business and pleasure. However, it may be that once you have heard the reasons, for example, the person does not know many people in the area and would like to meet up occasionally or feel that you have mutual interests that you can share via social media, you will feel able to give this a try.   It is fine to tell him/her that you feel a bit awkward since this is not something that you normally do, but will give it a try to see how it goes. This signals to the other person that there is a chance that you will ‘unfriend’ him/her at some point if you continue to feel awkward.

Learning suggestions:

  • It is hard to be strict about never mixing work and personal life since you may find that there are a few people at work whom you both respect as colleagues and gel with on a personal level. Therefore, it would be a shame to cut yourself off from the possibility of cultivating them as friends because you feel that would be unprofessional and/or you like to keep your work and personal life separate.   If you have adopted this philosophy ask yourself these questions:
    • Why do you feel this way?
    • Why is this important to you?
    • What do you gain from this approach?
    • What do you lose out on?
  • Reflect on your answers and determine whether you want to set rigid boundaries around work and personal activities. If yes, consider:
    • How will you come across to your colleagues?
    • What impact will this have on your reputation?
    • How can you convey that you enjoy working with them so that you still have a positive work environment?

 Femchallenge:

Consider whether you can be truly successful without making some friends at work.

 Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.

Find more on our website Femflection.com